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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sun Takes Microsoft Fight to Court

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida -- Sun Microsystems Inc. took a bitter public dispute with Microsoft Corp. to court, claiming its arch-rival distorted a popular Sun programming language so that it works only on Windows computers and not rivals' machines.

Java, touted by Sun as the next big advance in computing, is supposed to enable developers to write software that runs on all computers, from Windows PCs to Sun business machines to Apple Macs. Sun licenses Java to 117 software developers, including Microsoft, and major computer makers such as International Business Machines Corp.

Sun's lawsuit, filed in San Jose, California, federal court, escalates months of rhetoric between the high-tech foes over a language that Sun has said would free people from being reliant on any one type of machine. It also adds to the public scrutiny of Microsoft, which is the object of an ongoing Justice Department probe into whether the huge software company is unfairly monopolizing the market for its products.

Sun, based in Mountain View, California, claims Microsoft deceived customers and software developers into believing that Microsoft's version of the Java language was good for programs that ran on all computers. It said Microsoft changed the Java language used in its new Internet Explorer 4.0 browser, which was shipped beginning last week.

Microsoft dismissed Sun's claims as "outrageous"and "completely unfounded. "The use of Java within Internet Explorer is "well within the terms of our agreement," the company said.

Specifically, Sun is seeking to stop Microsoft from using Sun's trademark icon for Java -- a coffee cup with steam rising from it -- which is supposed to signify its flexibility.